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Let it Be (Mishpatim)

Preview: A short thought: “Come up the mountain, and ‘be there'” – what exactly does that mean? Did Hashem really command Moshe to do nothing more than “be?” If so, why? Maybe because other leaders had struggled with this imperative in the immediately preceding verses.

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We All Make Mistakes (Yom Kippur)

Preview: The most significant details of Yom Kippur seem to all be modeled upon the kohen gadol’s historical failures. The date recalls the Golden Calf. The prohibitions recall the people’s attempt to gain atonement. And the Temple rituals are introduced in explicit contrast to the trespass of Nadav and Avihu! What’s going on?

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Beating Around the Bush (Beha’alotcha)

Preview: Is there any connection between the lighting of the menorah and the fires of Nadav and Avihu? What about the branch of almonds that sprouted following Korach’s rebellion? What about the burning bush?

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Take Two (Pesach Sheni)

Preview: Theory: the “impure men” who petitioned for Pesach Sheni may have been the cousins of Nadav and Avihu: Mishael and Elzaphan. Textual observations implied/implicated by this theory include: parallels between the inauguration of the mishkan and the night of korban Pesach; between the deaths of Nadav and Avihu and the plague of the firstborns; and between the ritual reaction of the Pesach Sheni’s “impure men” compared to that of Aharon’s (other) family members following the deaths of Nadav and Avihu.

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The Hair Affair (Korach)

Preview: The rebellion of Aaron’s cousin, Korach, seems awfully reminiscent of an earlier episode involving Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu…

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Out of This World (Nasso)

Preview: The laws of nezirut combine three elements – grapes/wine, hair, corpses – that seem to have little connection to each other. But that combination came up once before – after the deaths of Nadav and Avihu. And in fact, if you look carefully, you’ll discover that the laws of nezirut were taught on the same day that Nadav and Avihu died. That can’t be a coincidence!

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Going Rogue (Shemini)

Preview: Aharon’s two oldest sons disregard the strictures of the sanctuary and burn something they’re not supposed to; then, a few verses later, his two younger sons do the exact same thing. Neither set of sons acts “as commanded.” So why their disparate fates?

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